When traveling in Bosnia, be aware of your surroundings.
Be very polite and above all, avoid discussing politics.
Zagreb to Mostar and Vicinity
Rental cars in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, are becoming hard to come by due to NATO's deployment. It is recommended that reservations be made in advance in order to avoid delays. If insurance is purchased when renting, be advised that the moment you cross into Bosnia proper it is no longer valid. Drivers in Croatia are fair, but in Herzegovina and Bosnia itself they are outright dangerous. Take extreme precautions. If you don't do it anywhere else in the world, in Bosnia and Herzegovina you must drive defensively.
Getting Around, Taking Precautions
For a tour of Croatia's capital,
Welcome to Zagreb
For Croatian attractions and
Welcome to Croatia
If traveling from Zagreb via Karlovac and down through Knin you will cross the region known as Lika. This is a mountainous stretch through which runs the length of the Mala Kapela hills. There is a lovely section of national park known as Plitvice Jezera. At the center of the park is the Hotel Bellevue and if you get in trouble on the road or run into inclement weather, it is a good place to hole up. It is, however, pricey. Primary villages along this route include Slunj, Plitvice, Udbina, and Gracac. Between them is little or nothing.
If you travel this route in winter, the conditions can be very rough. Ice, snow and deep drifts are common. In many places, the road falls off into steep gorges. Take extreme caution. If you go off one of these gorges, it may be Spring before you are found. There is traffic along the road all day and late into the night when trucks use it to beat the daytime traffic, but due to a mass exodus of its few Serbian inhabitants, the area is deserted for long stretches. When the Croatian Army launched its fall offensive, they cleared vast areas along this route. The Croatians who lived there have not yet returned, and the Serbs who lived there until recently departed with great haste. Do not stop to poke around abandoned buildings as there is still great danger from land mines.
There is usually traffic at all hours, but be prepared for severe cold if you run into problems. If you are caught unprepared on these mountains, you will be lucky to survive. In your car, always include a good spare (always check the spare on a rental before leaving!) a tow strap, chains, warm clothes and a sleeping bag. We cannot over-emphasize the danger of freezing to death if you are trapped in these mountains. Make sure you top off your gas tank in Karlovac before leaving.
At Gracac, you will turn left on route M6 to come down to Knin. This road is winding and traverses some steep drop-offs. In many places, there is no guard rail and only small stone nubs, whose purpose seems to be only to snap off on impact, mark where you have plunged to your death. Again, be very cautious of other drivers and passing techniques that can defy all logic and sense of self-preservation.
Unless you have business in Knin Iwe recommend you keep driving through it. It remains a military town. You and your valuables may be seen as fair game. Take route E-71 to Sinj for rest and refueling. It is a lovely town that has remained untouched by the war and has a firmer grasp on law, order and reality.
IMOTSKI, MOSTAR, AND MEDJUGORJE
After Sinj, you will travel the M-6 to Imotski and Mostar. Again, the road is narrow and hazardous. In Imotski, and at the border in Gorica and Posusje, there are fueling stations open 24 hours known as "Non-Stops." At the border there is a cursory Customs stop. Betacams and other equipment should be declared at the post so as not to be taxed, but more importantly, to establish a record of ownership. After Gorica you are in Herzegovina.
For travel to Mostar there are two routes. After Imotski, you can go north to Posusje and Listica, or south to Gorica, Ljubiski, Medjugorje and Citluk. Both routes have stretches of road that are steep and winding, overlooking gorges and valleys that mean disaster if you happen to drive off them. The route is narrow, and Hercegovinan drivers border on being suicidal.
A Yugoslav Gem, Brought to its Knees by War
Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was once a prime tourist destination. But the brutal devastation of the city has left it with only a hint of its former beauty. Its churches, minarets and medieval bridge are battered, often beyond recognition. Adding insult to injury was flodding which came to Mostar this winter, wiping out the remaining bridges that spanned the city.
Mostar, like much of Herzegovina, is an area of high crime activity. The Mostar region is HVO country and the HVO have added new meaning to the term 'banditry.' Tourists around Medjugorje are safe, since the local Mafia know where their bread is buttered. However, journalists, aid workers, EU, UN, and IFOR personnel are fair game. It is strongly advised NOT to take accommodations in Mostar and at NO TIME leave your vehicle and equipment unattended for any lengths. For those working in and around Mostar, the best place to arrange accommodations is in Medjugorji.
For a photo retrospective of Mostar, click
Benvenuit In Guerra,
an Italian site.
A Sacred City, Blessed by the Virgin Mary
Accomodations in and around Medjugorji
Excellent accommodations can be found under the auspices of Mr. Bosiljko Vasilj. When entering Medjugorji go past the Church of Our Holy Mother and bear right, up the hill 100 meters. When you see a concentration of Western European Community Military police vehicles (all painted white) ask around for the "Ruzic" residence. Anyone will know them by name. The facilities offer clean rooms with private baths, good food. Mr. Vasilj's daughter in law, Misijana Brkic, is available for guide and translation services. Also, being surrounded by a company of EU military police, it is the safest place in Herzegovina. Call ahead for reservations.
To learn about apparitions of the Virgin Mary
at Medjugorji, click Medjugorje Information Center.
Medjugoje, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Innkeeper: Bosiljko Vasilj
Telephone: (387-88) 650-055
Translator and guide: Misijana Brkic
Telephone: (387-88) 643-207 or (387-88) 650-055